Indeed, if you experience cramps in the lead up to your period, menstruation might not be to blame or the sole reason, particularly if you’re trying for a baby. Instead, the reason could be implantation cramps, which are an early sign of pregnancy.
But what exactly are implantation cramps and how can you differentiate them from period pains? Implantation cramps are the pain sometimes experienced when a fertilised egg attaches itself to the lining of a uterus, though every woman is different and some won’t feel it at all. The fertilised egg reaches the inside of the uterus when it is just a bundle of cells and it necessarily needs to grip on to the juicy endometrium to get some nourishment and start the miraculous process of placentation. The egg needs to burrow into the lining and start to grow little tentacles of early placenta, called trophoblast. Therefore, this very process may lead to a little bleeding and a cramp-like feeling, quite similar to the pain experienced when anticipating a period.
On the other hand, menstrual cramps happen when the uterus contracts in order to expel its lining and this is triggered by prostaglandins. Nevertheless, countless number of women will have walked around with a tissue paper or tampon in their bag thinking the period was imminent because of the discomfort or the pain.
Concerning the signs that you might be experiencing during implantation as opposed to menstruation cramps are ones that are also symptoms of pregnancy. Signs of breast tenderness may be much worse than usual and often women may start to pass urine more often usually at night. These will usually precede any other feeling of nausea or tiredness.
Finally, always remember that the cramp-like pain could indeed be down to menstruation rather than pregnancy. It is a very fine line between implantation and menstruation cramps, such that it is only what comes next which distinguishes the two. However, if your period doesn’t arrive on time then take a pregnancy test. But if your period does follow, then you can be sure the cramping was due to menstruation rather than early pregnancy.